PES building future’s uncertain

As of September 2014 Ponoka Elementary School’s pink building will be empty, and Wolf Creek Public Schools is searching for options.

As of September 2014 Ponoka Elementary School’s pink building will be empty, and Wolf Creek Public Schools is searching for options.

“I just hate to see it bulldozed…I just wish someone in the community would step forward and say, ‘Hey we’d love to take it off your hands’,” said Ponoka trustee Lorrie Jess.

If someone were to take on the empty building it would be at their cost. As it stands, the annual utilities cost for the building is $45,000. Wolf Creek Public Schools doesn’t have a ready estimate of the cost to repair the building. “It’s a pretty solid building,” said secretary-treasurer Joe Henderson.

“There’s your heating and your utilities and up keep and water. So we need to be quite upfront with how much it would cost them to take on that building,” said trustee Karen Engen.

“It sounds so sweet to give (away) an empty building, to just be able to go forward. But I think we need to be honest about operating expenses, (they’ll) have to be taken on by whoever,” she added.

In the past the youth centre took on the first grade building, which, in the eyes of the board, was ideal.

However, the pink building is its own situation. In the past the building was put up for tender and trustee Donna Peterson questioned whether that was still the path to take.

Henderson says the building cannot be subdivided or sold. “It’s too integral to that site. It would be very difficult.”

The long-term lease would only be for the building and none of the surrounding land.

Superintendent Larry Jacobs wants to use the empty building and lease as leverage to garner support for a school resource officer. He’s hoping the new owners will commit to five years to support the officer, which would cost around $30,000 annually.

After the five-year period it would transform into a minimal payment lease.

Trustee Bob Huff believes having Jacobs explore options for building will give the board direction and could spark movement within the community. “Let’s get the word out there.”